What kind of intern are you?

It’s easy to focus on “what’s in it for me?” when it comes to internship opportunities. After all, internships only last for a short period of time, so getting the most out of one is important. If I had a dollar for every time a student asked me “will this company give me a job after my internship?” then I’d be a very rich woman.

You see, many companies do offer their interns jobs following their internship (44%) and where they can’t, they will often provide a recommendation that leads to a job offer. However, they do not take decisions to hire lightly. Just like you, the company wants to know that they are making the best decision and will look to you to convince them of why you are the right kind of intern to employ.

“But aren’t all interns the same?” I hear you ask! The answer is ‘no’, not all interns are created equal. I’ve come to discover that there are two types of interns:

1. “My turns”

This group sometimes struggle to see the bigger picture. Often they think “when can I go home?” or “when can I go to lunch?” or “when can I have that job?” and sometimes expect the result without the effort.

2. “In returns”

This group thinks about what they can offer in return for the opportunity they have been given. They set out to demonstrate their value at every opportunity during their internship. They are prepared to make the effort even though they are not guaranteed a result.

The way you behave during an internship is, for the prospective employer, a prime indicator of how you will behave as an employee. So the kind of intern you choose to be is really important. When you choose to become and “in return”, good things happen. You get offered additional tasks and projects because people know they can rely on you to get the job done. You get recommended for things including jobs because you’re committed to adding value.

Why? Because “in returns” offer the following:


“In returns” turn up on time, every day, complete all assigned tasks and do what they say they will. These may seem like simple things, but little things add up and can make a big difference to how your host company perceives you. Ask yourself “Would I hire someone that I couldn’t trust to turn up on time?”


“In returns” get involved. When tasks are done, they ask “what’s next?” and they’re not afraid to offer or try new ideas. You may not have the most experience at this early stage of your career, but that shouldn’t stop you from sharing your thoughts and ideas with your company or volunteering to work on tasks that are offered up. Get involved, ask questions and make it clear that you are serious about building your experience.


“In returns” take ownership of tasks and ask for feedback because they have a desire to improve. You will be required to complete a number of tasks as an intern, and some will be more challenging than others. This will be the same throughout your career. Regardless of whether you have done the task one time or ten times, never be afraid to ask for feedback. Asking for feedback shows self-awareness and the desire to be better at what you do.

So next time you apply for an internship, don’t apply to be a “my turn”, there are plenty of those out there. I challenge you to make the choice to be an “in return” instead. Not only will it make you stand out from everyone else, but it may just land you that full-time gig that you’ve been dreaming about. What a fantastic “in return” that would be.

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